I have no shame in saying that Mamma Mia is one of my favorite movies. I have watched the movie countless times and listen to the soundtrack often. Before I came to Manchester, I jokingly told my friends that I wanted to live out my own “Mamma Mia” fantasy (preferably without the children).
Last week, I was feeling homesick and decided to watch Mamma Mia as a comfort food. When Meryl Streep began singing the words, “I was so sick and tired of everything / When I called you last night from Glasgow,” I thought – wait a minute – I’m only a few hours away from Glasgow! How many times have I heard that lyric absentmindedly, not realizing that it’s a real place? At that moment, I made the decision to impulsively buy train tickets to Glasgow. I had no idea what was in Glasgow, and I was nervous about traveling alone but remembered why I went abroad – to go outside my comfort zone. The following week, I woke up at 5:30 to catch a 3-hour train to Glasgow. Here is what I did (almost ALL for free), and what I learned from my first ever solo trip!
I love train rides. When I booked my tickets (which were less than 30 pounds with a Railcard!), I made sure I had a window seat so I could look at the countryside. Watching all the farms pass by, listening to music, and reading really put me in a tranquil mood. I also began fantasizing about my own version of Mamma Mia – living on a farm in the country, wearing overalls daily, while listening to ABBA. I also started looking at what my first move would be when I got to Glasgow. I knew I wanted to visit the art museums, so I looked at what was closest to Glasgow Central Station. The Modern Art Gallery was a five-minute walk, so I knew that was my first move! I did not have a strict itinerary for the day – I thought it would be more fulfilling to let my interests guide me.
I love museums. I was excited to go to a museum alone because I always felt rushed through the exhibits when I went with friends. I got to see famous art from artists like Andy Warhol, and then art from the locals! My favorite exhibit had to be “Gay Semiotics,” - a collection of photos reflecting the gay community in 1970’s America. It made me cry! I really enjoyed taking my time with the art and felt like I got to really appreciate it all. Also, it was free entry!
This is Glasgow’s “most famous” tourist attraction, so I, being a tourist, thought it would be fun to do! I took an Uber from GoMa to Kelvingrove since it was on the other side of the city. The building itself is beautiful. And massive. I explored the first floor to see the animal exhibits when I saw a sign that said, “Organ recital today at 1 pm.” In the center of the museum, there was a gigantic organ on a balcony. I decided to stick around the 1st floor for a while and watch some of the recital. It was amazing to see such a massive instrument being so carefully and casually played. I explored more of the upstairs during the rest of the recital, letting the organ music guide my explorations. I got to see famous paintings by Salvador Dali, and some more contemporaries too! I spent a lot of time here, time sort of flew by, but I soon noticed that my stomach was empty.
I looked on my phone for some local places to eat and saw a place called the Brunch Club about 3 minutes away. It was pancake day, so why not eat some pancakes in Glasgow? It was my first time eating at a restaurant alone – I feel like there’s some weird taboo about eating out alone, but it was charming. I had pancakes with Nutella, fruit, and some much-needed coffee on the side.
I saw signs saying it was a 10-minute walk to the Riverside Museum, a hyper-modern museum about transport, and thought, “Why not?” I took a pretty walking route around the waterside to the museum and spent a surprising amount of time there. I had no interest really in cars or bikes, but the museum was highly interactive. You could walk inside old-time subway cars and trains, visit an “old cinema,” and just explore. There were a lot of children and families (I felt out of place sometimes) but laughed as I haphazardly stumbled through the exhibits.
By this time, I hit all my top spots for the day and was unsure of what to do. I decided to walk back to the Kelvingrove area and walk through their park. It was a 20-minute walk from the museum, but I didn’t mind. I got to see more of the city this way! I walked through the park on a path near the river and really enjoyed it. I got to explore more paths, and it sort of felt like I was hiking!
After my walk through the park, I took a bus to enter the city center again. I used the app Moovit (Citymapper did not have a Glasgow location) to help me find the right bus. I tried to find the mural walk but ended up finding a park with one mural. This took a long time to try to find, but I enjoyed walking through the city in general. I wandered through some stores and enjoyed my time wandering.
I ate dinner at the train station since I was starting to get very cold and caught my 3-hour long train ride back to Manchester! While I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t venture out for dinner, I felt a bit more secure knowing I wouldn’t miss my train for 7. On the train, I journaled and took a small nap.
Overall, my first solo-trip was a success! I absolutely loved Glasgow and think it’s one of the most exciting cities I’ve been to yet. This was only the first step in my solo travels, I hope to venture out further on my own soon.